11 January 2020: Professional sport can often resemble a cruel hearted beast. Despite an even 70 in the second round, Anirban Lahiri will leave Hawaii early, missing the cut on the number. Gusting winds on Thursday and a packed leaderboard have contributed to edge Anirban into T67 at 2-over through 36 holes. The top ten are separated by just one stroke, with Brendan Steele and Cameron Davis emerging leaders at 6-under through 36 holes.
Three bogeys in four holes late on Thursday when gale winds made golf tricky business in Hawaii on Thursday proved expensive for Lahiri. The 32-year-old nearly chipped in an eagle on the par-5 ninth in a bid to secure his weekend, but missed it narrowly, settling for a birdie to finish his work for the week. It wasn’t to be enough to squeeze into the weekend, his card bruised again with a double bogey on the 11th and a bogey on the 13th, early in his second round.
Steele worked his way into a share of the lead with five birdies in his last six holes, shooting 4-under 66. “It was a wild finish,” said Steele. “I made one bad swing and made a double in between there. I was really happy with how I bounced back to make those good swings and good putts on the last few holes.”
Steele and Davis made a 66 on Friday, adding to their first round 68s for a one-stroke advantage over Cameron Smith, Bob Hoag, Russell Knox and Bob Oppenheim – each of whom made a 65 in the second round. Rory Sabbatini, Collin Morikawa, Sam Ryder, Ryan Palmer and Keegan Bradley are all tied in third on 5-under at the halfway stage.
It is Steele’s sixth time holding the lead or a share of it at the halfway stage of a tournament. The last time he converted the advantage was when he won the Valero Texas Open in 2011. 24-year-old Davis is in uncharted territory – he has never been inside the top ten after any round in his 36 starts on the PGA TOUR.
Hideki Matsuyama makes a stunning recovery
Hideki Matsuyama made a brilliant recovery after stuttering to a 74 in the opening round. He climbed 46 spots to the edge of the cut with a bogey-free 67 on Friday, including three birdies on the second nine to secure his weekend in Hawaii. After working carefully through the first nine, he broke a streak of ten pars with his first birdie at the second hole.
At three-over with only three holes left to play, he was staring down the corridor leading to an early exit. Matsuyama showed nerve and determination as he closed out with birdies on the 7th and 9th holes to remain in the Sony Open.
Matt Kuchar and Justin Thomas miss the cut
Defending champion Matt Kuchar, who made a 69 on Thursday also punched his way to an early exit, with a 73. Sung Kang left in disappointment with a pair of 71s this week on the par-70 course in Honolulu.
Justin Thomas, winner last week in the Sentry TOC, also made an exit. He made 72 and 71, missing the cut one shot further back from Lahiri. Keeping him company, as he did last week in the playoff, was Patrick Reed. Like Kuchar, Reed made a 69 in the opening round, but a 74 on Friday sunk him below the cut line, which fell at 1-over 141.
In the first round, Morikawa’s 65 was the lone bogey-free round. On Friday, there were six of them. Matsuyama, Oppenheim, Joseph Bramlett, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III and K H Lee remained spotless in the second round.